Bloomsburg Council Approves Saturday Parking Meter Enforcement

On Monday, Bloomsburg Town Council voted unanimously to begin enforcing parking meters on Saturdays in the downtown commercial district. The stated reason for adding Saturday enforcement is to prevent the “warehousing” of vehicles in public spaces. While The Chamber supports the goal of keeping parking available for customers, President Fred Gaffney asked for more careful consideration of the issue before implementing changes.

Council first considered changing enforcement times in December of last year. The Chamber was joined by dozens of local businesses in asking for additional data on the perceived issue of vehicle warehousing and the development of a more comprehensive strategy for managing Bloomsburg’s parking inventory. The issue was tabled and the Parking Sub-Committee created. As there wasn’t time to coordinate an additional study of downtown parking utilization prior to summer, no additional data has been collected to date. At the request of Council, the Sub-Committee recommended that parking meter enforcement be changed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The Chamber conducted a poll of downtown businesses to gather their input on the perceptions of parking availability. Of the 36 businesses that participated, only seven felt that parking availability was most difficult on evenings and/or weekends. Twenty-nine of the respondents, representing 81 percent, were opposed to Saturday enforcement, and only 3 businesses were in support. The results of the poll were provided to Council prior to Monday’s meeting. Despite this input, Council voted unanimously to implement the changes.

Police Chief Roger Van Loan anticipates the changes will take effect in approximately six weeks after the information on the meters is updated.

State ChamberPAC Issues Endorsements for General Election

Last Wednesday, ChamberPAC, the political arm of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry, announced its endorsements of state House and Senate candidates in the November General Election. Senator John Gordner and Reps. Kurt Masser (107th) and David Millard (109th) have been endorsed. ChamberPAC supports pro-job, pro-growth candidates and incumbent lawmakers who are dedicated to improving Pennsylvania’s business climate and growing the economy.

“If we truly want to move the Commonwealth forward, we need elected officials in Harrisburg who are committed to strengthening the state’s competitive edge and advancing policies that will allow the private sector to thrive and create jobs,” said PA Chamber President Gene Barr.  “On behalf of the state’s broad-based business community, we are proud to offer our support to these dynamic candidates and look forward to working with them in the upcoming legislative session.”

A full list of endorsed candidates is available here. In addition to the legislative candidates, ChamberPAC also endorsed John Rafferty for Pennsylvania Attorney General this June.

The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce does not endorse candidates and does not fund the ChamberPAC.

Learn About the New Overtime Pay Changes Over Lunch

After 12 years with no change, President Obama announced profound changes to the minimum salary threshold for employees to be considered exempt from overtime pay. This new threshold has caused concern for many employers and employees across the country. Ranging from the cost of basic compliance to the emotional reaction by employees on company morale, employers have many things to consider as they prepare to meet the new guidelines by December 1st.  Amy Britton and Marcia Cooney, both with Bucknell University, will review the requirements of the new FLSA changes at the September Learn at Lunch and will walk attendees through a number of factors for consideration.

The cost for this Learn at Lunch will be $15 and include lunch and drinks. Please note that this month’s event will be an hour and a half long and is sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities. Register by clicking here or call Eleanor at 570-784-2522.

Bloomsburg Council Seeks Further Input on Parking Requirements

On Monday, Bloomsburg Town Council voted to send a proposed ordinance that would require off-street parking for downtown development back to committee for further review. The Chamber, Downtown Bloomsburg Inc., and others had expressed concerns about the potential impact of the proposed requirements on downtown development. The Town’s Community and Economic Development Committee is seeking further input in revising the proposed ordinance.

The proposed ordinance would require that any new development in the downtown commercial district provide off-street parking. This requirement could also apply to existing buildings with a change of use, such as if an office space became a retail store. The intent is to ease the demand on public parking. The boards of the Chamber and Downtown Bloomsburg Inc. expressed concerns about the impact of this proposed requirement in a joint statement.   A special hearing was held Monday on the proposed ordinance.

Prior to hearing comments from the public, Mayor Sandy Davis stated that Council recognized a number of issues with the draft and suggested further review by committee. Council voted unanimously to send the draft back to CommD. The Chamber and others applauded Council for allowing more time to discuss the concerns and work toward a solution that promotes growth of the central business district.

Parking Requirement Could Deter Business Growth

Bloomsburg Town Council is considering an ordinance that would require that any new development in the downtown commercial district provide off-street parking. This requirement could also apply to existing buildings with a change of use, such as if an office space became a retail store.

The intent of this change is to keep public parking available for customers. The Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Bloomsburg Inc. support this goal and feel off-street parking should be required for new housing in the district. However, developers should have the flexibility to provide that parking in other areas, so that existing buildings are not turned into parking lots.

We also feel that commercial developments in the downtown should not have to provide off-street parking, as such a requirement would deter business development and growth.

A hearing is scheduled for Monday, August 29th at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, followed by a special meeting of Council to vote on the proposal. We are asking that the proposed ordinance be revised in order to encourage long-term, balanced growth in Downtown Bloomsburg.

Click here for the proposed ordinance.

Click here for our complete statement.